Italian police raid sprinters’ hotel
ROME (AP) — Italian police confiscated unidentified substances Monday in a raid on the hotel where Jamaican sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson were staying after each tested positive for banned stimulants.
Rooms of the athletes and physical trainer Christopher Xuereb of Canada were searched and drugs and supplements were seized, Udine police captain Antonio Pisapia told The Associated Press.
Pisapia said it was unclear if the substances were illegal, and that they were being analyzed.
“We are examining the substances now,” Pisapia said. “No arrests have been made and nobody has been placed under investigation.”
The raid took place at the Fra i Pini hotel in Lignano Sabbiadoro in northeastern Italy.
Powell, a former world-record holder at 100 meters, and Simpson tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine at the Jamaican championships last month, their agent said Sunday.
The police captain with the specialized NAS unit said that Powell and Simpson were informed of the positive tests Saturday morning.
The raid came in stark contrast to the warm reception that the runners generally receive in Lignano, and the town’s mayor, Luca Fanotto, recommended “caution” before drawing conclusions.
“The Jamaican team has chosen the sports facilities of Lignano Sabbiadoro as their training base for years and they never forget to thank the city from podiums all over the world,” Fanotto said in a statement.
A local meet is scheduled for Tuesday in Lignano, and the Jamaicans had been scheduled to compete as they do most years. But neither Powell or Simpson was on start lists released Monday.
Both athletes train under Stephen Francis, a coach at the high-profile MVP Track and Field Club in Jamaica.
On Monday, in an interview on Jamaican radio station HITZ 92, Francis blamed the positive tests on Xuereb.
“We are not disowning Asafa, we are just saying this relates to his personal employee. The trainer has nothing to do with MVP,” Francis said.
Francis told the radio station that he told Powell to only trust people who were with him from the start.
“If you are going to sink, sink with people who were always around,” he said.
The news of the positive tests for Powell and Simpson came the same day that American 100-meter record holder Tyson Gay revealed that he also failed a doping test.
Powell was the last man to hold the 100-meter world record before Usain Bolt broke it in 2008. He also helped the Jamaicans to the 400-meter relay gold medal at the 2008 Olympics.
Simpson won Olympic gold in the women’s 400 relay in 2004 and silver in 2012, along with a silver in the 100 in 2008.
The doping positives come a month after another Jamaican Olympic champion, Veronica Campbell-Brown, tested positive for a banned diuretic.
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